ANM268's blog

The Power of the Notes App

I have a Notes app entry called “Georgia Chaos Log” where I chronicle every challenging or humorous moment of my abroad experience that I don’t want to forget. Some of these entries include helping my host mom put out a kitchen fire, conspiracy theories about Americans that I hear, or getting hit with a door so hard I fell down a flight of stairs. I started this Notes app as a way to cope with everyday challenges but also as a way to reflect and laugh and feel proud of myself in retrospect.

Kartlis Deda Every Day

In Tbilisi there is a large monument on one of the hills overlooking the city called Kartlis Deda, or Mother of Georgia. Kartlis Deda is supposed to be the quintessential symbol of the Georgian spirit throughout history. In one of Kartlis Deda’s hands she holds a sword for those coming as enemies, and in the other a glass of wine for those coming as guests.

Expanded Perspectives

Studying abroad has influenced many of my goals. Some goals I want to accomplish initially from studying abroad include learning more in depth about the European healthcare and insurance systems and healthcare delivery, so that I can have the knowledge to be open minded and have diverse ideas regarding global and public health as a future physician making decisions one day. Also, I hope to compare the strengths and weaknesses of both American and European healthcare.

Everyday Life

As a student on the Comparative Healthcare in Graz, Austria study abroad program, we are living in Graz for 4 weeks. The Hotel das Weitzer is a very nice hotel in a great central location. It is close to two tram stops that we use to get to the university every day. It also is within walking distance to numerous restaurants with outdoor seating in the popular location called the “Bermuda triangle.” We are also close to the main Congress square and the famous Bell Tower and fortress of Graz.

Overcoming Language Barriers

As I reflect on my time studying abroad in Graz, Austria with Pitt’s Comparative Healthcare program, the biggest challenge I faced was the language barrier. The official language in Austria is German, and I had no previous experience with the German language prior to the study abroad program. Although we did learn introductory phrases on our second day of class with our onsite Austrian coordinator, Julie, it was a challenge to communicate in some stores and restaurants, as some locals did not know any English. For example, for our free weekend we went to a rural, small village of Admont.

Island Dining

           The food was, in a word, excellent. For one, it was so much fresher than most American food. Cyprus is a small island, but it has a thriving agricultural sector and a climate perfect for growing potatoes, olives, tomatoes, and melons. So when you went to a restaurant or the supermarket, there was a good chance that the fruits and vegetables were grown locally. Like many Mediterranean cultures, there was also more of an emphasis on homemade dishes rather than the junk food drowning in preservatives that is ubiquitous on American street corners.

A Day in the Life

           I am a man of routine, and so it was important to me to arrange some semblance of order with my day-to-day schedule. I would wake up most mornings around 6:30 or 7:00 AM. This was pretty early, considering breakfast didn’t start for another couple of hours. However, I found it worked best for me to get an early start to the day. I can be a bit sluggish right after I wake up and wanted to make sure I could be fully present when we started with whatever activities we had planned.

Embrace the Unexpected

           So, you’ve decided to study abroad. Maybe you already have some familiarity with what you’ll be doing, but most likely you are in the same position I was: anticipating the travel without a firm idea of what to expect. You’re aware of some broad generalities. It’s going to be hot, or there’s going to be a lot of walking, or you won’t have access to the same comfort foods you’ve gotten used to relying on during those midterm crunch weeks. But it’s impossible to say what your trip will really be like. If you’re like me, that stresses you out a little bit. That’s okay!

Goals Influenced

This eye-opening global experience influenced my professional and personal goals. While I was in the United Kingdom, I had to opportunity to investigate a research topic and hear from many nursing professionals about their different duties. This inspired me to think about how I can enact change in healthcare in the US. In addition, I experienced a new culture by going to local pubs, visiting museums, and exploring cities.

Advice from a Program Alum

If you are thinking about studying on the Pitt Plus3 United Kingdom program, DO IT! You will make lifelong memories with your new friends while expanding your knowledge. I am going to share with you some advice about packing for the trip, getting the most out of your studies, and how to enjoy yourself while staying safe.